Author: Dacia

Duoman: Ships in the Night + Part 2

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Duoman couldn't help but let out a slow, round whistle as he was confronted by the magnitude of what money can buy. Every single one of his human senses told him that he was indeed on a sunswept island in the middle of a glimmering sea. It was his *in*human senses that saw behind all the magic that was San Rommell. His sauntering promenade to the hotel where he knew Heero had booked Chang was punctuated by quite a few outright stares of longing to which he was somehow quite unaware. Arriving at the Sparkling Sands Resort, he made a beeline for the pool. It seemed to be the obvious place to attract attention to oneself, which was exactly what he knew Chang would be attempting to do.

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Quatre Raberba Winner had decided about five minutes ago that this was heaven. He stretched out his long, golden legs, drinking in the heady sunshine until he felt a bit dizzy. The only thing that could possibly have made this moment any better would be the presence of his husband. Quatre caught his breath. Or that gorgeous vision of a creature walking away from him. His aquamarine eyes traveled the length of the best pair of legs he had ever seen, rising to the hem of cut-off denim shorts which left very little to the imagination, before coming to light on a very long, very familiar chestnut-hued braid.

Chestnut-hued braid...

"O merciful Allah! Duoman!"

At the sound of his name, even from such a great distance and so softly spoken, Duo turned unerringly towards its source, his resulting grin rivaling the sunshine in brilliance. By the time Duo had reached his side, Quatre had reigned in his rampaging libido. If Duo was here, that meant Heero could not be far behind.

"Duo! What is it?!"

"Good to see you, too, Kat."

Duo laid out on the chaise next to the anxious blonde. Quatre moved a little closer and heard... purring? //Since when did Heero program him to purr?//

"Duo..."

Duo sighed melodramatically. "Just like Heero. What is it with you Preventers, anyways?"

"*Duo*..."

"Turns out Mr. X isn’t the only shady bigshot to have gone missing here, Kat."

Quatre blinked. Getting information out of Duoman usually involved some sort of emotional bribery. For him to be this forthcoming so quickly told him that there was something drastically amiss.

"Where’s Heero, Duo?"

"By this time, he’s most likely in whatever passes for a jail in this... paradise."

"*Jail*?!"

"Six, Kat. Six men have disappeared from here in the past two months."

"Six?"

"Without a trace. Chances are their disappearances weren’t exactly voluntary, Kat. Chances are they met with some horrific and untimely demise. And chances are that you and Chang are next on their list."

"But what am I supposed to do, Duo? Things aren’t what they seem here. Something’s wrong, but we don’t know what. Every lead we get leads to a dead end."

"I can’t tell you what to do, Kat. I’ll help you all I can, but first I have a Heero to rescue. Keep your eyes open. Keep your ear to the ground. And when you’re in that resulting position, keep some clothes on cuz you are just way too delectable to be walking around half naked like this."

Quatre couldn’t help but smile. "I’ll be careful, Duo." He watched pensively as Duo stood, noting his slight stiffness. Almost without thinking, he reached out to catch hold of his hand. "Heero will be alright, Duo."

He leaned down to pull Quatre into a needy embrace. "I know, Kat. I know. But he’s lost without me."

+

Preventer Extraordinaire Chang Wufei was concentrating on his glass. The drink menu in the bar had been, in his eyes, indecipherable. Having more on his mind that festive concoctions which he wasn’t even planning on ingesting, he had chosen the fifth item from the top. It wasn’t until the words had escaped his mouth that he began to be curious about what it was he had just ordered. The bartender had taken one look at his loose, gleaming black hair, flashed him a smile that was more than merely polite, and handed him a glass filled with all the colours of sunset in liquid form. He was startled out of his reflections only when he sensed an overwhelmingly masculine presence at his side.

"You look like you could use a friend."

"No," said Wufei. "I look like I could use a drink, and I’ve already got one of those." He dipped an idle finger into his glass, stirring it languidly until the colours melded into one.

"I didn’t take you for the drinking type."

As Wufei turned towards his admirer, he became instantly aware of two things. The first was that the man before him was the physical incarnation of his most desparate dreams, right down to the slight, knowing smile and domineering manner. It was the second observation, however, that caused his heart rate to quicken slightly -- he was being contacted. After all the searching and worrying, it had been while he wasn’t looking that he had been found.

He smiled deeply into the man’s hazel eyes. "Well, then... what would you suggest?"

"Something a bit sweeter," replied the man. "And harder."

It was just as well that Wufei had no plans on sipping his drink. That last comment would have made him choke on it.

"I don’t usually... indulge so early in the day."

The man laughed, the sound setting off shock waves that caused Wufei’s slight form to tremble slightly. "Later, then."

"I’ll be looking forward to it..."

"Treize."

"Treize..."

He watched a moment as the ginger-haired man left the bar. His movements were graceful and sensual, yet naturally so. There hadn’t been a trace of artifice in his actions or his words. Wufei smiled to himself. There was no doubt about it. This man was too good to be true. He had to be the one. Satisfied, he went in search of Quatre, leaving behind him, in a forgotten glass, a broken sunset.

+

Watching Duo walk away was like waking from a dream. It was only by the tingling in his fingertips that he knew it to have been real.

"Who was that?"

The question caught him by surprise. "Wufei! I didn’t see you there!"

The Chinese man took the seat left vacant by the retreating braided figure. "Obviously."

It was by Wufei’s following silence that Quatre knew an answer was still expected to his query.

"He’s just a friend. A very... close friend."

Wufei raised a single eyebrow. "Indeed."

Quatre blushed the colour of a spring rose, rushing to tell his partner Duo’s news in an effort to keep himself from becoming more flustered. He was very much in love with, and faithful to, Trowa Barton, but there was something about Duo that set off a cycle of the wickedest fantasies in Quatre’s usually innocent mind.

"And Heero told you this..."

"In transit," completed Quatre. It was a small lie with a pearl of truth in it -- Heero would be here soon enough. "He thought we could use the backup."

Wufei pulled Quatre over to his chair, placing the blonde boy squarely in his lap. There were advantages to going undercover as lovers, the first of which being that no one would be suspicious if he appeared to be whispering sweet nothings into Quatre’s ear.

"He may not have as much time as he thinks. I’ve been contacted."

"You sure?"

Wufei thought back to Treize’s golden eyes. With distance, he told himself they weren’t so breathtaking after all. He almost believed it.

"I’m sure."

Quatre wrapped his arms around Wufei’s neck. "I’ve got a bad feeling about this."

"We came here to do a job, Quatre. We knew we’d be in danger."

"I know, I know." He sank his cheek to the other boy’s shoulder. "Do me a favour? Be careful?"

Wufei chuckled. It was something he allowed himself to do only in his partner’s presence. If it ever were to come out that such a sound had escaped his lips, he would go to his grave denying it.

"I’m a Preventer, Barton. Being careful is what I do."

It was only Wufei who called him by his married name and it never failed to make Quatre grin like a fool in love, which is what he proceeded to do now.

"I’m going to hold you to that, Chang."

+

Heero raised his head slowly as soon as the last of his tormentors had left the small, barren cell into which he’d been placed. He had not expected to be treated with dignity. After all, the Preventers were hardly more than thorns in the sides of the colonies. But when he had been dragged from Deathscythe’s cockpit and beaten til he bled, he was shocked beyond belief. They hadn’t even taken the trouble to ask him any questions. He knew he must look as bad as he felt, but as he slowly stood, testing his battered limbs, he was assured that nothing had been broken. It was only as he sat again that he realized something was very wrong. No one had know he was coming and it wasn’t as if he were in uniform. How had they known who he was?

His thoughts were interrupted by the door opening. Heero steeled himself for what would most likely be a continuance of his previous treatment when a deep, vibrant voice spoke.

"I see I’m a bit late."

Thinking on his feet was one of those things Heero Yuy was quite good at. However, in the aftermath of what he categorized as the third worst beating of his life, the best reply he could come up with was, "Pardon?"

He raised his eyes and found himself literally drowning in two icy twin pools.

"If I had been here a bit sooner, you wouldn’t have had to go through this."

Heero put his fingers to his wrist. Yes -- he seemed to have a pulse which meant his heart was still beating. But if he was alive, how could he be seeing this angel?

"Oh, *this*? It’s just a scratch."

The man grimaced, reaching out a long-fingered hand to sweep Heero’s hair out of his eyes.
"I beg to differ."

"Listen. Don’t take this the wrong way, but... who the hell are you?"

"Zechs Merquise. I’m Head of Operations on San Rommell."

Well, thought Heero, that explains... nothing. His beating was the kind of thing Heads of Operations ordered, not apologized for.

"It’s a long story, Preventer Yuy, one which you shall hear in its entirety. However, I do believe now is neither the place nor the time."

"There, I would have to agree."

Heero attempted to regain his feet, but the second time around his legs weren’t quite as cooperative.

"Here." Zechs strode forward, his platinum blonde hair brushing lightly across Heero’s face as he bent over. "Lean on me."

It was as the taller man took the shorter into his arms that Duo bounced in the door.

"Hi, honey! Sorry to have been so long. Let’s you and me blow this popstand."

Zechs’ eyes opened wide in shock and Heero’s cheeks flushed bright pink right about the time Duo stopped talking and started looking.

"But I see the fucking cavalry’s already arrived."

"Duo..."

"No. No need to explain. Who am I after all --"

"*Duo*..."

"I really don’t mean to intrude," broke in Zechs, "but my plan involved more of an emphasis on 'leaving’ and less on 'squabbling’."

It was then that Duo realized what his jealously had blinded him to before -- the fact that Heero was quite possibly leaning on this gorgeous man because he was in no shape to stand on his own two feet. "You’re right, blondie."
He crossed the room to take Heero into his arms and lifted him effortlessly. "Sorry I got all spooked. But hands off the Heero, 'k?" He exited the room only to poke his head back through the door a second later. "Ummm... Where is it that we were going?"

+

When Heero next opened his eyes, it was to find himself in a very ornate office, reclining against a warm, comfortable object and feeling like he'd been hit by some sort of very large moving vehicle. He meant to ask where he was, but somehow, as he sat up, all that came out was a singularly pained groan.

"Finally awake, sleeping beauty?"

That voice... Heero turned around to find that the warm, comfortable object in question was in fact a faintly amused and disarmingly attractive Zechs Merquise.

"Where's Duo?"

Heero was almost positive there were may other questions that should have come to mind, yet all he could think of was the holographic boy.

Zechs chuckled. "I had no idea you were taken."

"I am not... taken!" Heero sputtered indignantly. "I'm... confused."

It was all coming back to him now, for all the good the entangled memories were worth. He lowered his aching head into his hands.

"And I don't have time for this."

"Forgive me. I did not mean to upset you."

"No..."

Heero found himself on the horns of a dilemma. Something big was going on here. That something had cost the lives of at least six men, and now had his associate and his best friend in its sights. He needed Zechs with a desperation that was almost blinding in its intensity.

But could he trust him?

When he had first looked up into Zechs' sweetly blue eyes back in his cell, he had felt himself inexorably drawn towards the handsome, long-haired man. He realized his reaction was coloured more than slightly by his previous rough treatment, and it was this more than anything that caused him to hold his tongue about Chang's and Quatre's mission, if only for the time being.

He shook his head to clear it, managing only to cause the slow tattoo throbbing in his skull to speed up a notch.

"Where is Duo?" he repeated. He was too sore to be pleased at Zechs' straight answer.

"In the next room. He seems to have a freakish fascination with my computer."

Heero couldn't help but grin, although if asked later he would have had no recollection of having done so. "Don't mind him. Computers are in his blood."

It was when he stood that he noticed he was now attired in navy blue coveralls.

Zechs answered his questioning look. "Your own clothes were a little the worse for wear. I though it best if they were replaced."

Heero felt the blush rising to his cheeks and mentally kicked himself for not being able to stop it. His discomfort was quickly noted and met with Zechs' warm laugh.

"Don't worry. I had very little to do with it. Your friend insisted on doing it himself."

At this, Heero's blush simply flared all the brighter. Zechs diplomatically let it slide, although he found the cobalt-eyed preventer's reaction quite intriguing.

"Follow me."

As soon as he entered the room, he noticed Duo. This in itself was not remarkable -- Duo tended to attract attention to himself, even when he wasn't being charmingly boisterous. The surprising thing was that Duo had not yet noticed him.

"Duo?"

Duo jerked out of his reverie with a snap, practically bounding out of his chair and into Heero's arms.
"Heero! You're awake!"

He let himself hold Duo tightly a short moment before regretfully releasing him. "How long was I out?"

"About four hours. Another second or two and I would have become worried."

"Duo, you already were worried," spoke Zechs.

Duo threw a rakish grin at the taller man. "True, blondie, but that was mainly because I left him alone with you."

Things had obviously changed between the two long-haired men since Heero had last been conscious. He was puzzled, but neither of the two seemed to be in a rush to enlighten him.

"I think now would be a good time to hear what Zechs has to say," said Heero.

Duo's expression instantly became serious. "It's an even better time than you think, Heero." He motioned with his head towards the computer behind him. "That's Wing Zero."

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